Sept. 12, 2003
MARYVILLE, Tenn. -- The Volunteers' cross country team didn't get the win Friday evening in its season-opening outing at the sixth-annual 8K Tennessee adidas Invitational, but the youthful squad did put together a competitive effort against the gifted N.C. State thinclads. N.C. State, the first-ranked team in the Southeast Region and a good bet to be included in the top 20 of the upcoming first edition of the national rankings, bettered Tennessee, the preseason third-ranked team in the South Region, by a 21-35 count at Lambert Acres Golf Club in Maryville, Tenn.
"I thought we ran competitively as a team," head cross country coach George Watts said. "I'm especially proud of Dusty (Miller) and Matthew (Lapp). It's very impressive that Dusty as a freshman led what I think will be a good team. A 45-second spread is pretty good for the first meet. As the season progresses, we need to close the gap to about 30 seconds by the end of the season.
The Wolfpack, without doubt one of the finest teams Tennessee will face this season, accumulated 21 points with its scoring five in first, second, fourth, seventh and 10th. N.C. State's Ricky Brookshire won the meet with a 25:35.32 clocking, 18 seconds ahead of runner-up and teammate Devin Swann. Brookshire's 25:35.32 stands as the 20th-fastest 8K time ever run at Lambert Acres.
In a rare dual meet for the Vols, Tennessee's scoring pack finished with 35 points by placing runners fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth and 12th. The team point totals were slightly adjusted from the places because an unattached runner took third place. Tennessee managed a respectable 45-second spread between its scoring five runners on a sunsplashed late summer September evening at the foothills of the Smokies. The temperature stood at about 80 degrees when the men's race got underway at 5:55 p.m. on the dry course.
Miller, a true freshman who was running for Knoxville's West High this time
last year, led the Tennessee contingent in his first collegiate race. Miller
took fifth in 26:14.17 to open his career on a promising note. Running sixth
throughout most of the middle of the race, Miller found enough zip in his legs
to nab the fifth spot to close the effort.
"I was really happy with it," Miller said. "A lot of friends and family were here. Being a local guy, I wanted to prove something. It's been a good transition [from high school to collegiate running]. We're running together. Towards the end I had something left where I could kick it in. I knew where each marker was and where I wanted to be strong at the end.
Junior co-captain Matthew Lapp arrived next for the orange clads. Lapp broke the tape in 26:21.87 to secure sixth and help Tennessee in the scoring column. Lapp climbed into the mix by the three-mile mark and stayed consistent throughout the end of the race.
"I was pleased with it," Lapp said. "I would like to not have those three N.C. State guys in front of us, but it was a good first run. It's early September. This year we're going for November. Starting with the SECs [Nov. 3], that's the championship season. It's great to have N.C. State here. That 's the level we want to be. It's good to be in a dual meet. You know exactly where you're at. You just get out there and race the competition. Senior Tim Kelly, who won the 2002 Tennessee Invitational, marked the third
Vol to finish. Kelly, after a strong start to get out front after a 5:01 first mile, finished eighth with a 26:42.08 workday. Redshirt freshman Nate Jansen, a Farragut product, secured ninth in his first race donning the orange, crossing in 26:43.63. Ed Davis wrapped up the Vol scoring five with a 12th-place, 26:59.28 offering.
Although only the first five Vols count for the team score, others got in on the action. Newcomer Jeff Day took 13th in 27:03.50. Redshirt freshman Brian Mills finished 14th in 27:17.39. Senior co-captain Steve Klein finished 15th in 27:22.10. Doug Brown followed in 17th in 27:42.86. Scott Shoemaker, a Powell High grad, and Kenny Schappert saw duty on the Tennessee `B' team with 19th-place, 28:21.86 and 20th-place, 29:20.97 finishes, respectively. "Our three, four and five guys were close to making this meet scorewise a lot closer than it turned out to be. Steve Klein struggled, but I expect him to get better next week at Navy. We also held out Chris Platt, who has been running strongly at practice and I hope will be back at the Navy meet.